Finally, after nearly a month on the sideline, Taylor Loss will be back on the football field, ready to engage in competitive action once again. The return is just in time for the Indians’ next leg in their quest for a championship, which continues when Scappoose hosts a first-round playoff game with Elmira at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 8.

It was a freak play, a dash to up the sideline late in the first half in the game against Seaside that sidelined Loss on Oct. 18. Since then, it’s been a slow but steady recovery. On Nov. 2, Loss was able to jog with no pain, and returned to practice on Monday, Nov. 4.

Though junior Joey Krupsky stepped in and carried the team to a 43-20 win over Astoria, the Indians simply weren’t the same without Loss on the field. The Tribe had a successful game running the ball, thanks to 88 yards on 12 carries from Krupsky, but what makes the team dangerous is the short passing game with the occasional “home-run” play.

An assistant for Tillamook hit it on the head rather well before the Indians’ 59-14 dismantling of the Cheesemakers.

“They nickel-and-dime you,” he said, adding that Scappoose relies on short, easy plays and waits for one to break loose.

   Loss has become adept at reading defenses and looking for lapses where playmakers like Justice Oman and Nick Rust, both senior receivers, can take advantage of mistakes by the defense. While he won’t run nearly as often as Krupsky, Loss makes up for the disparity with his arm. The Indians averaged 251 yards per game, scoring 18 touchdowns through the air with just eight interceptions.

In addition, the constant threat of a big passing play forces a defense to be honest. The safety can’t cheat and move up to defend the run, as he is needed to defend the Indians’ dangerous playmakers downfield. This makes the read-option lethal when instituted by a team like Scappoose.

Elmira, who finished 7-3 overall and 4-1 in the Sky-Em League, has already shown a particular weakness in their secondary. In a 55-16 loss to No. 2 Cottage Grove on Sept. 27, the Falcons gave up a mess of touchdowns to senior receiver Brad Bonds – five, in fact. Bonds caught 10 passes for 158 yards, more than half of the completed passes from quarterback Scotty Hitner, who threw for seven touchdowns against Elmira.

For Scappoose, this bodes well. Oman and Rust have six touchdown receptions each, with 82 catches between the two of them. Add in the prowess on kick and punt returns, and it makes for a nasty bunch for Elmira to contain.

What the Indians need to do

With Loss fresh off an injury and so crucial to the Indians moving forward in the bracket, it’s important to be sure he doesn’t take any hits early on. The Indians don’t need to test his ankle by having him run, and so the faster Scappoose can get the ball out of his hands the better. The system is already set up for a quick attack and release, so it shouldn’t be much of a problem if the team can execute on offense.

Keeping Loss on his feet and healthy falls to the offensive line and the pass blockers in the backfield. Not only does the running game need to be successful and thereby keep pass rushers from attacking too quickly, but when Loss sets up to throw, he needs ample time to make his reads and get the ball down field. If Elmira doesn’t bite on the running play, which is often the first option, the running backs need to be ready to block would-be sackers.

Even though kick and punt returns have been a source of points all season long, the Indians have been a little sloppy on special teams as of late. All but one of the point after touchdown kicks were blocked against Astoria, and head coach Sean McNabb said it would an emphasis during practice in the two weeks the Indians had to prepare for their first-round opponent. The Tribe doesn’t necessarily need to be perfect on extra points, but in a close game, they’ll need the added scoring.

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